Glazed carrots are a classic holiday side dish and an easy stove-top preparation, but I like to mix it up a bit with some Asian flavors. For this recipe, I combine a medley of sweet root vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, and red beets. I like the way the beets give up some of their color to the other vegetables as they sauté, turning the whole dish bright red. Instead of a traditional butter and sugar glaze, I use a mixture of soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil, with a touch of ginger and lemon juice for flavoring.
It all gets tossed with fresh chopped shiso leaves at the end. You can use either red or green shiso, and if you are having a hard time finding any at all, try combining a combination of mint and basil.
The key to this dish is to cut the vegetables into equal sized pieces so that they all cook at the same rate. For the carrots, this means peeling them, quartering or halving them (depending on how thick they are), and cutting them into 1/2-inch chunks. For the beets and sweet potatoes. I start by cutting 1/2-inch planks, then cutting those down into 1/2-inch chunks.
I cook the vegetables in a bit of oil in a lidded sauté pan, so that they can tenderize in their own steam. It takes about 8 minutes to get them to the point where they're soft but not mushy.
When they're nice and tender, I add the glaze, which I've whisked together in a separate container. The glaze should sizzle as it hits the pan and immediately start to evaporate. The goal here is to get rid of all excess moisture, leaving a glaze thick enough to just barely coat the vegetables.
Finally, the herbs get added right at the very end to preserve their fresh flavor. The result is a dish that's hearty enough to be a substantial side for a holiday roast, but light enough that it won't leave you feeling like you don't have room left for dessert. And isn't that what the holidays are about?
About the Author: I was born in Guangzhou, the birthplace of dim sum, and raised in Philadelphia's Chinatown. As an only child, cooking was a way to cure after school snack attacks and keep myself entertained. That's how my love for food and cooking started, and it only continues to grow. I blog at friedwontons4u.com. Follow me on twitter @friedwontons4u.